Clean and Elegant

Clean and Elegant

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Supersize versus Superskinny: A Spiral of Shame

Readers, I’m sorry.  My mind has gone dull and I’m totally ashamed.  I blame it on Lady Gaga.  A week or so ago, she announced to the world that she has endured a lifelong struggle with anorexia and bulimia.  At the time of her great announcement, it was evening and the Boatman was working late.  Instead of following  James Altucher’s Seven Habits for Highly Effective Mediocre People, I made the evolved decision of going on Facebook.  There I learned that in response to someone calling her fat, Lady Gaga launched a movement called “Body Revolution.”  
Lady Gaga poses for “Body Revolution.”
Lady Gaga’s movement is a forum on Lady Gaga’s webpage meant to promote body acceptance.  People post photos and stories about their struggles to adopt a positive body image, be they due to eating disorders, illnesses, disabilities, or whatever reason.  Clicking away I travelled from one article about Lady Gaga to another.  Miraculously, my psyche remained undamaged despite the fact that Lady Gaga is 26 years old just like me and like Kiera Knightley (also my age), she has accumulated heaps more fame and success than me and my sad blog and self-help book. 
In case you forgot, the moral of the heartbreaking I-wish-I-was-kiera-knightley story was:
We all have high vaginas.  Me, you, Kiera, Knightley, Lady Gaga.  Everybody.
Here’ s my High Vagina.  Again.

Me and my High Vagina at the Boatman's mother's cottage
But a twist of fate occurred when I came across the site, “Healthy is the new skinny.”  Like Lady Gaga’s cause, this site also promotes positive body image.  It also seems to advocate for realistic and healthy models in the media.  Wonderful. I’m all about this.  Healthy is the new skinny has a section of videos from Youtube and beyond.  Some of them feature people sharing their own journey towards body acceptance.  Others contain different news stories about disturbing diets, stereotypes and the fact that if Barbie a real person, with her disproportionate body, she’d suffer horrendous back pain and be hard-pressed to walk.  I like this sort of thing, so I kept scrolling down and clicking.

Then I came across a British reality television show called

“Supersize vs Superskinny.”  The whole thing’s on Youtube.
As the title suggests, the show profiles a “diet swap”  between one morbidly obese person and a waif-like, usually eating disordered person.  For five days, the large person will eat the emaciated person’s measly diet, while the poor person who’s used to eating nothing has to stuff his or her face with the multi-caloried mountains of food that the big eater consumes every day.

As someone who used to have a litany of food rules and restrictive habits, I find the diet swaps to be a bit unlikely.  Most of the time, the participants change their ways far more quickly and amicably than is realistic.  After five days, almost all of the superskinnies are putting dents in the piles of the supersize’s feasts.  And just about every time, the supersized participants make peace with their meagre portions, and end up leaving something on their plates.
Apparently a lack of sound, realistic journalism isn’t that important to me.  I didn’t count how many episodes I’ve watched, but I made it to approximately season five, where the outcomes of the diet swaps become slightly more realistic.  I know way too much about this show.  I’ve watched it way too many times.
I picked this episode because it features an obese medical student and a teeny tiny health freak who does guess what? Yoga. Sort of hit home for me...  This swap seemed a bit more realistic than the others. 

Between meals, other journalists examine different diet and weight related issues.  For one season, a reporter tries out all sorts of fad diets.  On a couple others, they follow a group of anorexic and bulimic patients.  Season five, if you’re interested, does a bit of both.  The doctor on the show travels to Evansville, Indiana, apparently the fattest city in the United States.  In Evansville, they have ambulances that can carry a 1400 person.  So far most people max out around 800 or 900 pounds.  But still.  Oof.

 This guy would need an enormous ambulance to move him which must make him feel terrible.
Seriously, these people have wounds from surgery that won’t heal because they’re covered in fat.  They have to get someone else to help them shower, or wipe their asses. 

I can’t believe I’ve watched this show more than once. Surely once would be enough.  But no, I can’t stop.  I know I shouldn’t look, but I can’t look away.  It’s a big fat binge. 
Although I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this, if I were you, I’d avoid this show.  My obsession with it has caused me great shame.  I wish that I could say something profound and meaningful about obesity and eating disorders and the world’s ridiculous obsession with food and weight, but after so many hours watching these youtube clips, I’m consumed with lethargy and self-loathing. 

Now it’s time to go teach a core strength yoga class. Let’s hope that my students work very hard, igniting the fire deep within their lower stomach so that I may vicariously burn away this spiral of shame.

The End.
Me being skinny in India. Kerala, 2016.
India is the best diet. Or the worst.

Exuberant Bodhisattva on Facebook
Twitter: @mypelvicfloor
I Let Go, self-help book by Erica J. Schmidt

Tell Me I'm Fat, by This American Life

Are you strong or are you skinny?
Day 69 of Not Puking in Your Mouth
The Benefits of an Ashtanga Yoga Practice, Part Two


  1. In some of my darkest hours I too have watched SS V SS. I should have recognized the signs sooner... feeling a little low, feeling a little lost and soothing with watching other people restrict food because I have been pretty committed to not doing that anymore. That show is total ED porn and when I find myself wondering if a new season has been posted on YOUTUBE yet, I call a friend, I read a funny blog (like this one!), I make an appointment with my therapist, I listen to Kino McGregor give valuable tips on opening my hips, anything really. Indulging that show only leads to lower feelings.I have been in that spiral.

  2. Hi Liberty Bell! ED porn is a great term for it. You should patent that one. And you're right. The craving for such ED porn often comes at a weak moment-of loneliness, boredom, mild to severe self-loathing. It's good to have a batch of alternatives when you start feeling the pull. Thanks for your comment! Take care, Erica.

  3. I know it's bad, but I am completely addicted to this show now...

    Oh and LOVE your blog :)